It’s that time of year, the weather is changing, decorations are going up, and there are a lot of holiday gatherings. It’s important to think of your pet during this season and not forget to take extra precautions during all the hustle and bustle. Here are some things to consider for your pet.
Decorations. Holiday decorations are beautiful to look at but some of them pose a potential risk to your pets. Ingestion of glass, metal, ribbons, and tinsel can cause some serious complications. Many decorations also have small pieces to them that can be swallowed.
- Tinsel can act like a knife in the digestive tract
- Many decorative items can cause blockages
- Artificial snow contains a chemical that can be harmful if inhaled or ingested
- Unattended candles can be knocked over by tails and start fires
Holiday Plants. Many common holiday plants are toxic. Common reactions to plant toxins can be vomiting, diarrhea, serious kidney damage, or even death.Lillies are the most toxic of the seasonal plants. Be sure to keep plants out of reach or out of the home.
Christmas Trees. The Christmas tree is a very common decoration for this time of year, However, they pose many potential dangers to your pet. Pine needles, water, and ornaments are the most common risks.
- Make sure the tree is out of common pathways (try to place against a wall or in a corner)
- Place your tree near an outlet to avoid extension cords that can be chewed
- If you need an extension cord, make sure it is out of chewing range for your pet
- Anchor your tree to the wall or ceiling as it can easily be knocked over by curious cats and big dogs
- Make sure that live tree water is not accessible, as it can be toxic
- Ornaments can make tempting toys, keep fragile or swallow-able ornaments out of reach
- Avoid using metal ornament hooks, as they can cause perforations in the digestive system if swallowed
- Ribbons are a great alternative to tinsels and garlands
- Avoid using fire retardants as they are toxic and be sure to water your tree often instead
- If your pet won’t leave the tree alone try spraying lower branches with bitter spray and refresh it periodically throughout the season
- Having a pet gate into the tree room or lattice fencing around the tree will also help keep your pets safe.
- Leave presents hidden until the day of opening as many have shiny strings, or interesting smelling goods, etc; you may find that your family pet has opened your presents for you.
Holiday PartiesIt’s the season for families and friends to gather. They are fun, exciting, and filled with joy. To your pet, it can also be terrifying. All of the loud noise, strange people and smells could cause your pet to act adversely or even run away.
- Give your pet a “safe room” during parties. Stock it with toys, food, water, etc and label it as such. This will give your pet a safe, familiar environment, and eliminate the possibility of your pet escaping through an open door
- Microchip your pet. If your pet does escape it will provide a way to reunite you. Fall and winter have the highest reported cases of missing pets.
- Remind your guests of any house rules involving your pet, such as not allowing table scraps to be fed to your pets.
- Keep hors d’oeuvres out of reach of pets
- Encourage guests to throw away toothpicks, napkins, bones, etc
- Keep trash cleaned up
- If guests are staying the night ask them to store medications where they cannot be reached. Many medications are harmful or even fatal. Even if they are bitter, they make an awfully fun rattling noise and may be accidentally eaten.
Holiday Food (yum!) It’s the food triathlon of the year. There are so many major holidays, parties and gatherings and they all involve food. It’s important to remember that although it tastes wonderful and gives us that feeling of comfort, it does not do the same for your pet. It is also the number one reason for obese pets.
- Fatty meats can cause gastrointestinal problems such as Pancreatitis. Pancreatitis is painful and potentially life threatening. Pets who have been fed people food can get this, even if fed a tiny bite.
- Chocolate is TOXIC. It acts as a heart and nervous system stimulant and can cause loss of body fluids. Dark unsweetened baking chocolate is the most toxic. Symptoms of chocolate ingestion include vomiting, diarrhea, tremors, hyperactivity, and seizures.
- Candy wrappers can cause damage to the digestive tract or blockages.
- Onions and garlic can damage red blood cells. Be careful of onion dips & garlic powder.
- Nuts can cause muscle weakness and tremors.
- Alcohol is TOXIC. It should never be given to your pets
- Bones can get stuck in your pets digestive tract.
- Bird carcass bones are very brittle and can shatter into sharp, knife-like objects, which can tear the stomach and intestines. This can be fatal.
Outside Dangers. Perhaps the most dangerous place for your pet to be during a northwest holiday season is outside. There are many hazards and risks to a pet out in the elements.
- Salts and deicers can get stuck in paw pads and fur causing irritation. Wipe paws and tummy’s off to avoid ingestion or shards.
- Anti-freeze is extremely toxic and very lethal. 1 teaspoon for every 2 pounds of body weight is deadly. It is sweet smelling and tasting which attracts animals. Make sure to clean up any anti-freeze smells immediately. Signs a pet may have ingested anti-freeze include being wobbly, acting “drunk”, vomiting, and lethargy
- If you leave your pet in the garage, make sure all toxins are up out of chewing reach.
- Do not leave your pet in a running car as they can get carbon monoxide poisoning. It is also a target for thieves.
- Do not leave your pet alone in the car. During cold weather it can act as a refrigerator.
- Prolonged exposure to cold can cause hypothermia or even frost bite.
- Pets can fall through an ice-covered lake and if not pulled out quickly, will die. If not warmed quickly, they can get hypothermia
- Pets will sometimes curl up near warm vehicle engines and if not warned can get caught in the engine. Before you start your vehicle, honk your horn or bang loudly on your cars hood to alert any pets, and hopefully scare them off or give them the opportunity to move around/make noise to alert you of their presence.
- Some dogs are not suited to cold weather, such as a Chihuahua
- Dog coats/jackets may help keep pets warm and dry, but make sure to take them off when unsupervised.
- Booties can help prevent paws from getting cuts from ice, salts, etc
- A matted, dirty, wet dog is fairly ineffective at keeping itself warm and dry. Make sure to keep your pet well groomed to ensure him maximum warmth. Brushing your pet will also get rid of any dead hair and promote blood circulation.
- Dogs with fur between their toes may need to have ice picked from them or melted.
- Do not let your pet stay outside too long. Make them come in and warm up on a regular basis, just like a kid.
- Pets skin may get dry and flakey during this time of year, a humidifier may help keep the itch down, and drying your pet off after each trip outside will help.
- Make sure your pet has a warm place out of the elements. There are insulated dog houses, or you can insulate a dog house with straw or cardboard. Creating a dog door will also help keep the elements out.
- Longer nights mean that there is more of a chance your pet may not be seen around roadways. Car headlights can also stun your pet or cause sudden movements into the road.
- Keep pets in at night, or in a secure fenced yard.
- Older pets who suffer from arthritis pain should spend a minimal amount of time outside. The chill can aggravate joint pain.
- Pets burn more energy in winter trying to stay warm, make sure your pet has plenty of access to fresh water. If your pet is outside a lot, you may want to feed a little more during the winter months.
- Do not let your dog off leash outside of your home, many dogs cannot pick up their scent in the snow and can get lost.
- Puppies do not tolerate the cold well, and may be difficult to housebreak in winter.
The little extras that may be forgotten
- Costumes might be cute, but anything that dangles/constricts/hinders movement should be taken off after family photos. Decorative collars are a good alternative.
- Pet presents should given with the consideration of his or her size. Undersized toys can be swallowed and lead to choking or blockages.
- Before throwing away boxes and containers, check to make sure your pet has not curled up inside (yes, this does happen!)
- When putting decorations away, make sure your pet has not curled up inside before sealing rubbermaids and other boxes.
- Extinguish open flames when leaving them unattended. They can be knocked over. This is the leading cause of house fires.
- Use a pet alert window cling to alert fire fighters of any pets and how many, they are extremely helpful in an emergency, and fire fighters look for these clings
- Test your smoke alarms monthly, and change batteries twice yearly. If your home has a doggie door, teach your dog to go outside when the smoke alarm sounds.
- Teaching the command “leave it” can be very helpful during the holiday season
- Try to maintain normal routines as much as possible to keep pets as relaxed as possible and to help prevent inappropriate energy release such as chewing furniture
- If you need to leave your pet alone, block off decorated areas until you come home and can keep an eye on your pet.
These are all good tips and pointers to keep in mind and be aware of. We want you to have a fun and happy holiday season. In the event that you do have an emergency or any questions, we are here for you and your pet 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Our staff is always available to answer any questions you may have. Have a warm and Happy Holiday Season!